10 Ways To Use Chocolate For Good

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1. You can combine chocolate consumption with other pleasures. For example, you can eat chocolate while shopping for shoes. Life does not get any better than that.

2. You can eat chocolate while you are waiting for a handsome man to send you a text message, email, voice mail, or shares in his stock portfolio–whatever.

3. You can eat chocolate while you peruse your divorce papers. It won’t change anything, of course, but it can’t hurt anything either.

4. You can eat chocolate while waiting for the timer to go off when you are coloring your hair. Usually, those minutes are just wasted.

5. You can reward yourself with chocolate for exercising when you felt like doing something (anything) else instead.

6. You can eat chocolate as a substitute for dinner. It’s a proven fact that chocolate will make you much happier than lima beans.

7. You can use chocolate to bribe children to practice their math facts, write their thank-you notes, finish their music theory, or to perform other odious tasks.

8. You can eat chocolate as a form of social protest against the media’s love affair with anorexic-looking models.

9. You can purchase gourmet chocolate as a luxury item to help stimulate the economy. It’s practically patriotic.

10. You can use chocolate to sooth the savage beast within you and prevent you from causing bodily harm to the tiny humans you gave birth to.

Laughing yet? Want more? This list is an excerpt from my 3rd book, I Love You–Now Hush. Visit a bookstore near you, order online, or download it today!

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Straight From The Mouths of Teenage Drivers

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  1. “I’m not speeding! I’m going exactly the speed limit.”
  2. “That dent was already there!”
  3. “I’m not too close.”
  4. “That car needs to stay out of my lane.”
  5. “I know what to do. You told me that a hundred times already.”
  6. “I did come to a complete stop.”
  7. “This is harder than it looks.”
  8. “Wow. That was close!”
  9.  “Merging is hard.”
  10.  “I forgot about crosswalks.”
  11. “I’m never going to parallel-park, so I don’t need to practice that.”
  12. “You don’t have to yell at me!”
  13. “Sorry. Is that expensive to fix?”
  14. “I drove well this time; didn’t I, Mom? You didn’t throw up once!”

Posting this excerpt from my last book, I’ve Had It Up To Here With Teenagers, as I teach my third child to drive this week. It’s like labor and delivery, one forgets. . . .

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A Southern Woman’s New Year’s Resolutions

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  1. I will exercise every day. (As long as my favorite exercise outfit is clean, my best friend is free to exercise with me, and I don’t have to take another shower.)
  2. I will eat only healthy foods. (As long as they are covered in chocolate.)
  3. I will improve myself in some way every month. (Provided I do not have to read any self-help books, go to any counseling sessions, watch any instructional videos, or listen to smug, skinny, well-adjusted salespeople.)
  4. I will separate myself from negative people. (Is this child abandonment?)
  5. I will read the books I didn’t get to last year. (As long as someone else can do my work, wash clothes, run errands, and take care of my children.)
  6. I will prioritize my life. (I will not spend half a day making homemade cupcakes for children who will lick the icing off and throw the cupcake away.)
  7. I will spend more time with my dearest friends. (Instead of listening to mere acquaintances blather on about their ex-husbands.)
  8. I will plant an herb garden. (As long as I don’t have to water it or fertilize it or anything like that.)
  9. I will find one good thing in every person I meet. (Even if I have to admire someone’s handwriting.)
  10. I will be kind to animals. (Even if I hold up rush hour traffic for a tortoise.)
  11. I will encourage my friends in every new venture. (Even if it is a totally ridiculous idea, and everyone knows it.)
  12. I will be more adventurous. (I will run with scissors and gas up the car after the warning light comes on rather than with half a tank.)
  13. I will try a new hairstyle. (Surely there is some style out there that screams: “There is a woman in here underneath the mom attire!”)
  14. I will clean out my attic. (And stop pretending my husband will ever get to that.)
  15. I will balance my checkbook properly. (How hard can three-digit subtraction be?)
  16. I will be more tolerant of other people’s views. (Even if they are obviously uninformed idiots.)
  17. I will spend more time having fun. (And less time feeling guilty about that.)

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The Christmas Greenery Thief

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Here’s a chuckle for your first week in December. I didn’t make up one word. I swear. I didn’t have to. Humor writing is a rich well in the South, let me tell you.

Today is pick-up day for holiday greenery at the Botanical Gardens in the city where I live. When I arrived, the usual hustle and bustle was in full swing. In no time, my arms were too full to see over my foliage, so I placed my selections in a pile and began scoping out the rest of the aisle.

Imagine how shocked I was when a fellow shopper whisked my pile of bodacious greenery into her arms and headed for the checkout counter at a gallop, leaving me standing in her wake with my mouth hanging open.

“I’m so sorry,” I called out to her (because I’m a Southern woman, and we often begin our sentences that way whether we’re taking responsibility for monsoon rains a continent away or starving children in North Korea) “I think you’ve mistakenly nabbed my greenery!” I smiled warmly at her in a we-are-the-world-peace-love-and-joy way.

“Oh, I know, honey,” she responded with a teeth-whitened-to-blinding-smile thrown over her shoulder, “you’ve picked out some really good stuff here, but I am in a big hurry. You can get some more!”

As often happens when confronted with bad manners, I was temporarily immobilized. I blinked in confusion in an effort to process the hard-to-believe display of bad manners unfolding before my very eyes.

I began a number of responses, none of which actually made it out of my mouth:

“Of all the nerve. . . ”
“Did that woman just steal my greenery?”
“Where was that woman raised?”
“Who does that?”

I was at a loss for words. That almost never happens. Luckily, I was surrounded by a group of women, none of whom I knew, who were riled in my stead in a rather touching demonstration of sisterhood, I think. Yes, indeed, there were witnesses who found plenty of words to describe the Christmas greenery thief. It’s quite possible that the woman next to me got a good photo of the naughty one with her cell phone camera.

It took about two seconds for me to break down into one giggling hot mess. There was something about the sheer nerve of her move that cracked me up. I had to sit down and gather myself among the Poinsettias for a few minutes before beginning my second session of hunting and gathering.

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Goldilocks and the Three Chairs

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I’ve never owned a decent office chair, but I never lost any sleep over it either. In fact, I had no idea how many chair options there are out there. My goodness! Desk chairs are an industry unto themselves! Who knew?

I’ll tell you who knew: Mr. Bob Lindsey. He owns Lindsey Office Furnishings in Birmingham, AL, where I spent hours poking around for treasures this week. You should, too. I did my chair shopping with the big cheese himself, Mr. Lindsey. The result: My fanny is sitting pretty today!

My last office chair cost me ten bucks at a yard sale. That seemed about right since I don’t have a real office—with walls, a door, privacy, no screaming children, no pets, and, most importantly, QUIET—which would justify a big, imposing, throne-like chair, but I never worried about it. I’m a mom. Compromise, making-do, and lowering expectations are the norm. My office is a corner in my bedroom.

Now that I know what’s out there, however, I’m rethinking my lot in life. Those high-tech thrones look pretty good—like they could launch a cruise missile with the touch of a button. Just between you and me, I’ve always thought I’d look pretty good perched on a throne wearing a tiara.

Southern women like me have an innate fondness for tiaras. I wouldn’t mind adding a scepter to that office throne package, which would be handy for whacking those in my life who need a come-to-Jesus-and-mind-your-mama tap on the shoulder.

These days, I value comfort and practicality over my long-time love affair with antiques, so I was up for a chair adventure, and I planned to upgrade.

My husband went with me to pick out a chair. We found one quickly, which is often the case when my husband accompanies me on a shopping trip. He’s not an ambler. Sadly, once I got home with my purchase, the chair I chose refused to move up and down as promised, so I had to return it and start over.

More shopping is not a hardship for me. I met Mr. Lindsey with my return just as he was crossing the street to return to his office with takeout. Since I am a well-mannered Southern woman, I encouraged him to go ahead and eat. I was happy to wait. Of course, Mr. Lindsey, being old school and rather well-mannered himself, merely rolled his eyes and went to work to find me another chair that would “make me happy.”

I don’t know that there is one thing on earth a Southern man can do that is better than saying he is going to “make me happy.”

Guess what? He did. I dragged him down every aisle, room after room. I sat in every chair that was remotely appealing. It was Goldilocks and the three (hundred) chairs day. Nothing seemed right. Every chair was too tall, too short, too modern, too old, too office-y, too hard, too soft, too ugly, too clinical, or too something-or-other I couldn’t quite articulate.

Did Mr. Lindsey get impatient with me? No, he did not! I’m sure he felt like showing me the door, but he didn’t. He didn’t look to the Heavens for help or pressure me to JUST PICK ONE ALREADY!

I admire him for that.

Finally, I squished myself into a tiny bit of leathery heaven. Chair nirvana. I found the perfect chair. Angels sang. Cathedral bells rang. This chair has all the bells and whistles. It could have been tailor-made for me.

“This is THE ONE!” I screeched with glee, “Is this chair in my price range?” I asked Mr. Lindsey.

“It doesn’t matter. Let’s load it up,” he replied instantly, as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

I’m fairly certain that Mr. Lindsey gave me a whopping good deal on my office chair. I don’t know for sure because he never showed me the price. He spent at least two hours with me, so I may have actually been a losing-money sale for him. I was in no hurry at all to conclude our purchase. Mr. Lindsey is a fun guy. He tells great stories. He actually met Clint Eastwood and ended up spending the afternoon and evening with him. He’s that kind of guy. Likable. Also, he drove me around in a golf cart to look at chairs. How fun is that???

I love my new chair, and I’m pretty fond of Bob Lindsey now, too. Like most women I know, I’m a big fan of good service, business executives who stand behind their merchandise, and people whose word is their bond.

Thanks, Mr. Lindsey!

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One-Time-Only Speaking Offer!

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One-time-only offer!!! I need a videotaped recording of one of my speeches. For some reason, I can’t find one online from past events,etc., and media clips won’t do. Here’s the deal: I will WAIVE my speaker’s fee for an event (you’d still have to pay expenses like airfare, hotel, whatever) ENTIRELY in exchange for a recording, so this could be a win-win for any of you out there putting together a gala, banquet, luncheon, fundraiser, whatever. I love what I do! Put me to work for you for FREE!  Just this once, of course. . . .

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The One Thing

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In moments of Pinot Grigio-induced wisdom, I have been known to expound upon one of my core beliefs about a successful marriage. Although marriages come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, I firmly believe that every pair of lovers shares The One Thing.

The One Thing is impossible to define. It can be as small as the endearing way a lock of hair falls across your husband’s forehead or the indefinable comfort conveyed by the weight of a wife’s hand resting on the back of her husband’s neck.

The One Thing represents the connection two happily married people feel. It is immediately obvious when a couple lacks this, married or not, and its presence makes those who long for The One Thing in their own marriages to gaze wistfully at strange couples in restaurants who have it. In their togetherness, these couples seem to embody all that is missing in those marriages that have lost their magic somewhere along the way.

I think The One Thing is what keeps us going when life throws terrible obstacles in our paths. The One Thing has probably saved more marriages than all the counseling sessions in the world. It is somehow impossible to remain angry with someone whose smallest gesture can reduce you to tears, and I think that’s probably a good thing.

Recently, the husband of a friend who was trying to patch up a marital spat asked me the question that every woman I know has been asked by the husband of a good friend at least once in her adult life:

“I just don’t understand! What does she want?”

To answer, I always pour another glass of Pinot Grigio and begin by asking the husband to tell me about The One Thing in his marriage. Believe it or not, sometimes this actually works. Most of the time, though, the husband asks me something like:

“So—you don’t think this will all blow over if I bring her flowers or something?”

* Today’s post is an excerpt from my first book, SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully. I’m posting it today in honor of a friend’s anniversary–the couple that inspired this post! Happy Anniversary, sweet friends. I love you both. Want to read more? Please check out one of my books!

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